9th June 2000 at 01:00
DESIGN CHALLENGE SERIES: Amazing Machines. Exciting Electrics. Super Structures. Moulding Materials. By Keith Good. Evans pound;9.99 each. Teacher's Book pound;15.99

This useful new series for key stage 2 and 3 design and technology aims to develop knowledge, skills and understanding in the designing and making of structures, in the use of electrical and mechanical control and in working with mouldable materials.

A bright, attractively laid out and sturdy hardback is assigned to each of these areas and the series as a whole is accompanied by an informative and helpful photocopiable teacher's book which gives background information, links with other subjects and practical hints.

Keith Good's aim is to "encourage creative, innovative ideas", and, in large part, the series succeeds as children are frequently invited to identifytheir own projects for designing and making.

The series employs a "recipe book" methodology, with step-by-step instructions allied to photographic and three-dimensional illustrations. Health and safety issues are sensibly covered. The books recommend using cheap, readily available and reclaimed materials (though this does result in a lack of information on working with wood).

Although some activities in Super Structures, Exciting Electrics, and Amazing Machines might be a little ambitious for lower key stage 2 children, if the series is used selectively, there is something for everyone here. But the outstanding volume is Moulding Materials, in which the projects are particularly accessible, challenging and well thought-out.

Joanne Strachan is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sunderland

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